This is an incredible story that explores the landscapes and indigenous people of the Amazon and the Andes. It is a tale of survival and adventure. It’s a tale about encounters that have given shape to how we understand South America and its people. It’s a story about finding the true source of the Amazon river. It’s a mystifying story that explores the very nature of being, and of time, through the eyes of the Mayuruna, the Cat People.
A journalist seizes on an opportunity to help an adventurer tell his story
“[I was] tempted to dismiss this story as the work of somebody angling for a contract with Steven Spielberg.” He then observed that “Loren McIntyre, a veteran National Geographic photographer, and journalist widely respected for his eye, his prose, and his careful observation, is not one to tell tall tales; and truth can be stranger than fiction”
Amazon Beaming stands at the top of my list of adventurous nonfiction books about Peru
More about the book
“The cat-people, however, challenged the notion of time’s passage or rather accepted it only if that passage suited them. They had strong ideas about the direction of that passage and how it could be modified. In a sense, they had cleared man’s most enduring perplexity, the one regarding the nature and material of time, for they were the material of time themselves. They were what moved time forward or back, or what kept it still. Through them, time expressed itself and found its direction; it acquired utility and even a sort of moral character instead of remaining the monotonous, faceless, merciless passage of more evolved cultures.”
Into the Andes to find the source of the Amazon
Motifs and themes that kept me turning the pages
Mayuruna, the cat people
“They were what moved time forward or back, or what kept it still. Through them, time expressed itself and found its direction; it acquired utility and even a sort of moral character instead of remaining the monotous, faceless, merciless passage of more evolved cultures.”
“For the Mayouruna time was at once mobile and static, abstract and yet concrete. They saw man as something of a master of time, as if both community and individuals owned their time and carried it around with them like an extra layer of existence. Time moved with man and stopped with him, advanced and retreated with him. Time was not the implacable judge, condemning man to a tracically brief life. Time was a shelter. An escape into the safety and regeneration, a repository whose chief function was not puiling up the past, entact yet dead, but rather keeping the past alive and available. At certain moments the tribespeople called on that past, to assist them with an alternaitve to a menacing present.”
“He wrinkles his forehead, perhaps silently checking his vocabulary, then related the following fable: Once upon a time, the big river flowed in the sky. Its whole valley was carried on clouds, fastened to the clouds with bulky liana ropes. Many people lived in the valley in the sky in perfect harmony. But one day a curious bunch of little girls untied one of the ropes. That was enoiugh to undo the whole: rope upon rope snapped under the pressure, and the valley crashed onto earth. Thus the big river split into thousands of smaller rivers, and the sky, sad over the loss, cried its first rain.'”
What is the beginning, or the source?
“The source is there to be found and witnessed in the utter normalcy of its appearance, unique for just an instant, that of its discovery. Then it will pass into the history of exploration, which is a chronicle of transcience. No matter how fiercely pursued, each discovery’s effect on man is to push him to look someplace else.”
What is an adventure?
“Enjoying a place at its last moment of mystery. But there is more than that. There is that unique emotion when a human, limited and ephemeral as we all are, feels overpowered not with what he has found, but with the world, he left behind, without which his find would be valueless. There is a seed of selfishness in that moment, curiously synchronous with the triumph and confirmation.”
Other great resources related to Amazon Beaming
The book got turned into a Broadway musical. Find out more: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/09/the-encounter-broadway
A book review that explores the story’s plot in-depth; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-3486434/The-cat-people-tried-kill-quest-lost-Amazon-tribe-saw-Loren-McIntyre-attacked-left-die-rescued-tribal-chief-spoke-using-telepathy.html
a National Geographic about McIntyre and his life: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/amazon-encounter-explorer-photographer/